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Bilbo0 09-02-2002 08:58 PM

The Right Boat
So here''s the dilemma: my wife and I are relatively new at sailing, and have been learning the ropes in our 26'' Thunderbird. Great boat, lots of fun and we have spent weeks at a time cruising the Pacific Northwest in it. The issue for my wife is comfort, especially when it gets gusty out on the Straight of Georgia. When the wind picks up, she ends up on her ear **** fast, and we have had her suddenly heel until water was getting past the coamings. Sure we reduce sail, but until then my little love dove''s heart is going all a patter. Many a time she has looked wistfully at some motor vessel blasting past at 40 knots, oblivious to the wind and sea. I''ve never been on a larger boat, but I''m looking at something much bigger, maybe forty feet, and I''m imagining that a larger sailing vessel would not be sprightly, so quick to heel nor so bouncy in a heavy chop. Alternatively, we would go the motor route, but I would very much prefer a sailing rig if I could make my wife more comfortable. Is bigger the way to go, or more power?.

DuaneIsing 09-03-2002 05:01 AM

The Right Boat
My first thought would be to go out in a larger sailboat (that of a friend or charter with a skipper) under reasonably brisk conditions. You two can then judge for yourselves whether the larger/heavier sailboat has the stability to make your wife comfortable enough.

Good luck keeping your wife "in the fold".


JohnDrake 09-03-2002 05:51 AM

The Right Boat

There is a very knowledgable gentleman here, JeffH, who hopefully will explain the attributes that make a boat tender or seaworthy.

Boats of any size can be very tender, that is that they can heel quickly, at very acute angles when the wind freshens. I don''t know your boat but from your dscription it is most likely a light displacement day sailor, perhaps over canvased and narrow beam. Also, it sounds like you have not adhered to the maxim: "reef early and reef often".

LOA of a boat has nothing to do with its performance to weather, seakindly ride or tenderness. Boats with a greater beam and heavier displacement tend to be "stiffer". That said, there are also (again JeffH needs to reply) many other factors that contribute to a boats stability. These are the placement of ballast, hull depth, keel depth, height of the rig, sail area to displament, center of gravity and center of effort.

It is certainly possible to find a 26ft boat that will be much more stable in a blow. You could also get a 40ft boat that will be light and overpowered and terrify your wife.

The final consideration is to balance your desire for a boat that is lively and fast with a boat that is stable and not overpowered. They are around but it takes quite a knowledgable person to find them.

As for the power vs sail thing...powerboats are a means to get you to a destination, sailboats ARE the desitination.

One last piece of advice, with respect, if you are finding it difficult to control a 26ft boat, it might not be the best idea to jump up to a 40 footer. 32ft might be a better choice and then work up from there.

Hope this helps.

Bilbo0 09-03-2002 07:35 AM

The Right Boat
Author should read: Nathaniel (don''t know why it''s doing this...)
Tender, that''s the word! The T-bird has a beam of 7 feet, a sail area of just over 300 square feet, and more or less just bobs on the surface. It was designed as a racer and is really fast, which may be the biggest problem.
I try to adhere to reef early and often, but it doesn''t always work; just yesterday we were sailing in the Gulf Islands with no jib up and a reefed main, and still she was heeling at 45 degrees and hit over eight knots in a 20 knot wind!
We could have gone under bare poles, but if you motor when it''s calm, and you motor when it''s windy, might as well just get a motorboat! I looked around at the dozens of boats in the channel, and most are much larger and many still had their full main and genny out!
The vessel I''m looking at (we would eventually like to do the liveaboared thing) is a 40 foot 20,000 lb steel schooner with a 13 foot beam and very deep hull. Unfortunately it''s on the hard which means no sea trial...

gerryn926 09-03-2002 09:26 AM

The Right Boat
I wouldn''t buy it with out a sea trial, particularly with the concern you have for how tender the boat sails. The way the boat sails is one of your main search criteria, then you need to sail it. Tell em what you are looking for the boat to do during the trial, if it meets these objectives, then you will go ahead, if not then you won''t.

My $0.02

JohnDrake 09-03-2002 09:44 AM

The Right Boat
I don''t mean to be critical or amusing but...20 knots of true wind qualifies for Small Craft Warning...which your small craft qualifies for.

I think you would have to research the vessal you are looking at quite a bit to understand how seaworthy it is. More than likely the owner will not let you sea trial it without a contract and even if you put a contract on the boat and sea trial it, there is still no assurance that sea trial will let you discover all the boat''s characteristics in the various types of weather you will sail in.

Going from your Tbird to a big steel schooner would be like going from a motor scooter to a 18 wheeler. A schooner does not really sail at all like a sloop and a steel boat is a big prospect for constant maintenance. I am sure a nice 40 ft schooner could be a good livaboard but I would not think it would give you the thrill of sailing like your T bird does or the speed and pointing ability of a modern designed sloop. It would certainly be the antithesis of a powerboat, even though you would be motoring quite a bit.

I guess I have not understood what your goals, interests and experience are.

Best of luck

Bilbo0 09-03-2002 10:24 AM

The Right Boat
Actually, critical and amusing is fine with me; sometimes that''s the best way to learn.
I''m getting the sense here that perhaps part of my love''s apprehension is due to a tendency to take risks on my part, risks that this particular vessel may not be up to. Yet everything I''ve read about this design talks about how safe they are, and I know of T-birders that race in 25 knots with full main and genny. As an aside, I once enquired as to what a "small craft warning" applies to, and I was told anything smaller than a 500 foot BC ferry, which makes the whole thing rather pointless.
My goals are a comfortable liveaboard, and a smooth, steady sailer that can be used for extended perhaps even bluewater cruises. And one stable enough that doesn''t frighten my wife; I''m really not so into speed as such. As for experience, I''ve got about a year, which is pretty meagre when talking about a 40 foot schooner, but learning by doing has always been my philosophy.

gerryn926 09-03-2002 11:08 AM

The Right Boat
I am a big fan of learning by doing. I don''t think that getting the 40ft you want is inappropriate at all. Just as long as you are diligent in preperation. We jumped from a 27 to a 36 foot and never looked back. In fact I would be happy if it was a 46.

gssmith 09-04-2002 08:21 AM

The Right Boat

I''m in much the same boat (sorry, couldn''t resist). I''ve only recently gotten serious about sailing (after crewing infrequently for years). My predicament may be worse, however, because I don''t even own a boat yet, and being a confirmed bachelor, I have to find friends who can tolerate a "good" heel (or they''ll never speak to me again... I''m hoping your wife isn''t so fickle).

Without a boat, I''m stuck renting from a local sailing club, which on my budget means a Santa Cruz 27 (LWL around 24'', 8'' beam, similar displacement/ballast/sail area to your Thunderbird). In San Francisco, the mildest of summer afternoons includes a Small Craft Advisory (which seems meaningless here) and 20+ knots of wind... often much "worse."

With such a light boat, I''ve found only two things help with a nervous crew. First, get very good at blading out the main. There is an excellent discussion of this in the Learning to Sail forum entitled "Heavy weather sailing." I won''t attempt to improve on this description of the technique, penned by far more accomplished sailors than I. Using this technique, I can keep the toerail dry on a Santa Cruz 27 under a working jib and single-reefed main (I hate the way the SC 27 sails in a fresh breeze without the jib, so I leave it up). That keeps the boat reasonably upright through winds approaching 30 knots (but that''s the limit). Even on a bigger boat, I assume that you''ll need this skill to keep everyone happy.

Second, I have the queasy-looking crew person handle the mainsheet. If we catch a strong puff, he or she can ease the main to spill some power. Most folks seem a bit more comfortable having some control over their destiny, but it does require good coordination between the skipper and the crew. This arrangement works well on the Santa Cruz because the traveler is well forward in the cockpit. It may not work well on other rigs.

As for buying a boat, I''m looking for something that my nieces won''t freak out on as we cruise through the slot (which they would refer to as the "scary part" of the Bay) for a camping adventure on Angel Island, and be sufficiently seaworthy and roomy to get to me and a few friends to Monterey and back without incident (that''s hardly bluewater crusing, I realize, but I''m not looking for the be-all, end-all boat). While using my newly improved mainsail-trimming skills certainly helps, I''ve noticed some big differences in how boats handle in the roughly 32'' cruising range. I assume that the same would be true of boats nearer 40-foot. As such, I would certainly hesitate to buy a boat (especially something as gargantuan as that 40-foot schooner) without a sea trial, even if I had to forfeit some earnest money in the process. It just seems pennywise and very pound foolish.

When I raise questions about what boat is safe with the saltier folks at the marina, I get a lot of conflicting advice, with one exception. Everyone agrees that safety is a more a question of skill and maintenance than boat design (within reason, of course). I''m guessing that there are a lot of boats available in the Pacific NW that could fit the bill. Don''t get overly attached to one design because it''s the "safest."

I hope there''s something useful for you in all of these novice observations.

Cheers --Greg

JeffC_ 09-04-2002 07:05 PM

The Right Boat
If the issue for your wife is comfort, then I''m not surprised that she doesn''t like ending up on her ear! Sounds like a problem with equilibrium to me. . .

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